Facebook sets sights on mobile, reveals plans of more standalone apps

Facebook has confirmed that it will soon release more standalone apps like Instagram and Messenger for mobile devices in the near future. The announcement was made during Facebook’s fourth quarter earning calls on Wednesday. "You should also expect us to start building a few of these other things that we will focus on over time and develop into meaningful things like Messenger and Instagram are today," Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday.


Facebook launched its Messenger app in 2011 and rolled out major updates, including a whole new look and texting abilities in the last quarter of 2013. On the call, Facebook CFO David Ebersman said that Messenger's users grew 70 per cent in the three-month period. "We've taken it out of the main app so it gets room to breathe," Zuckerberg said.


Zuck also noted there was room for "a lot" of different utilities in the future, and offered Facebook Groups as one possibility. "We now have more than half a billion people using groups every month," he added. "It was sort of seen as a feature of the Facebook app rather than its own product."


Earlier this month, sources had reported that mobile is still turning out to be an important destination for Facebook and quite rightly, the social networking website reported that advertising on its mobile platform had gotten it more than half of its ad revenue this quarter.


In fact, to kick off the proceedings, Facebook is reportedly planning to release a Flipboard-like app, called Paper, that will provide users with curated news stories. In a complete change of directions, rumours have suggested that Facebook is hiring editors to manually pick out engaging articles in multiple verticals rather than relying on its all-too famous News Feed algorithm.


If Zuckerberg’s answers at the investor’s conference is anything to go by, we may even see an app for Graph Search sometime soon. Facebook’s sophisticated search feature that understands a wide variety of simplified questions could be a boon for users on smartphones. You can type away questions like “Friends of my friends who listen to Metallica,” and find answers for your question.


It sure seems like Facebook has moved on from the two false starts it had with trying to expand its mobile portfolio – Poke and Facebook Home. What Facebook brings along as far as mobiles go this year remains to be seen, but if the hints are anything to go by, the social networking service will finally become a true mobile company this year.


(With inputs from agencies)

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